What’s in a drink?

by | June 9, 2013 1:11 pm



Due to health issues, Nigerians have become traditionally heavy eaters of fruits and vegetables sold fresh and are prevalent at roadsides. With a growing need for convenience among a larger working population, which is also more educated and therefore more health-conscious, fruit drinks in packaged formats have increased in popularity.

Furthermore, given the growing incidence of hypertension and diabetes in the country, younger middle- and higher-income consumers are keen to stave off these diseases by consuming fruit drinks they consider healthier than carbonates. Therefore, manufacturers are using the health benefits of fruit drinks as a strategy to drive growth.

Hence, food drinks and confectionery giant, Cadbury Nigeria plc, has expanded its products portfolio to include powdered beverages with the introduction of ‘Tang’ to the Nigerian market. The brand is already generating a lot of buzz in key cities across the country.

Tang, like any other flavoured powdered beverage, is a fruit flavoured powdered beverage made from a 100 percent natural flavour base and formulated to include many vitamins (such as Vitamins A, B, C) and minerals, with the brand already enjoyed by millions of consumers in about 30 countries in the world.

Speaking with BusinessDay, Akomen Omijeh, communications manager, Cadbury Nigeria, said, “Tang comes in three exciting flavours, orange, apple and pineapple. It is pocket-friendly and easy to prepare. It provides instant refreshment and gives the opportunity for children to express themselves in a vibrant and fun way.”

Meanwhile, some long-term studies show that regular consumption of artificially sweetened beverages reduces the intake of calories and promotes weight loss or maintenance. Others show no effect, while some show weight gain.

One worry about artificial sweeteners is that they detach sweetness and energy. Until recently, sweet taste meant sugar, and thus energy. The human brain responds to sweetness with signals to at first, eat more and then with signals slow down and stop eating. By providing a sweet taste without any calories, artificial sweeteners could confuse these intricate feedback loops that involve the brain, stomach, nerves, and hormones. If this happens, it could throw off the body’s ability to accurately measure how many calories are being taken in.

So, the question now is what’s the best choice for your health? For adults and children, the evidence is strong that cutting back on sugary drinks – or eliminating them altogether may help with weight control and will almost surely lower the risk of diabetes.

In a recent report, there is emerging evidence that sugary drinks increase the risk of heart disease. The evidence is not as much of clear-cut for artificially sweetened drinks. For adults trying to wean themselves from sugary soda, diet soda may be the beverage equivalent of a nicotine patch: something to be used in small amounts, for a short time, just until you quit the habit.

For children, the long-term effects of consuming artificially-sweetened beverages are unknown, so it is best for children to avoid them if they can and when necessary too.

Healthier drinking is not just an individual problem. Beverage makers have flooded the market with so many types of drinks that offer lots of sugar, or an unpronounceable list of artificial sweeteners. What’s sorely lacking in the beverage marketplace is a middle ground – a drink for people who want just a little bit of sweetness, but do not want too much sugar, and want to withdraw from artificial sweeteners because of health concerns.